The Samurai’s Return

Graphic by: Johanna Wong

Graphic by: Johanna Wong

By Max Plotkin

Graphic by: Johanna Wong

Graphic by: Johanna Wong

Like a warrior returning from battle, Mill Valley’s Samurai Sushi has reopened after an interminable renovation.

In the foyer, a glass case holds Samurai armor, the mask’s mouth turned down in a grimace of pain, just like I felt after a planned two-month renovation of the resturant turned into a five months of permitting purgatory.

During the first few weeks of the renovation, my family would drive by looking for any signs of life. But as weeks turned into months the lights remained dim, just like our hopes that it would re-open.

In the meantime, we went to Sushi Ran and came home with stomachs nearly as empty as our wallets. We longed for Samurai Sushi, where a student could afford to eat yellowtail sashimi without having to dip into the college fund.

Now Samurai Sushi has re-opened in its home, directly across from Whole Foods Market on Miller Avenue. At first glance nothing seems to have changed. If you were expecting a new dining room you will be disappointed. But if you missed the excellent and moderately priced sushi, you will be glad that the food hasn’t changed.

Brian Kim is the owner of Samurai, as well as a sushi chef. “Most Japanese sushi bars are pretty racist. They give the belly of the fish which is the fattiest and best part to other Japanese,” said Kim. He decided that he would go a different route. Kim shares the best cuts evenly throughout his customers.

Kim uses the MacDonald’s theory that it is better to sell a lot of fish for a smaller price than to have ridiculously priced fish and have a few buy it. The difference between Samurai and MacDonald’s, though, is that Samurai has managed to keep the high quality of their food alongside the amazing cost.

My meal, consisting of albacore sashimi, salmon, and avocado rolls was superb until my dad’s dish came out. He had ordered the spicy tuna roll, which at most places is his favorite. At Samurai this is not the case. The roll had a very spicy kick to it, which some might find too strong, but the strange thing about it was the sweetness. It tasted as though someone had accidentally spilled a whole container of sugar onto the fish, which did not enhance the flavor. This may have been because the roll had not been made with mayonnaise, which gives most spicy tuna rolls a creamy and slightly sweet flavor. The result of the lack of mayonnaise was not to my taste and the roll was by far the worst one that I had.

But the other two rolls I ordered were delicious and perfectly balanced. While most sushi restaurants skimp on the fish and add too much rice, Samurai has found a perfect balancing point, giving the roll the fulfilling taste that only good sushi has. The sashimi was soft and tender with a texture that melted in your mouth like carnival cotton candy. Dipping it in the real wasabi and good soy sauce enhanced its flavor, making it the perfect piece of sushi. The best of the slices was the albacore sashimi, cutfrom the tender belly of the fish.

After the meal, I left with a satisfied feeling in my stomach of having just the right amount of food.

Sadly, Samurai Sushi is only open from 5-9:30 p.m. so it’s not an option for lunch. However, it would be the perfect place to take your sweetheart on a date and still have some money left in your pocket.